Campus and Community

ISR team takes a robot to Abu-Dhabi

Técnico and two Spanish institutions are part of a team that will compete in one of the biggest robotics challenges.

The Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR), together with the University of Seville and FADA-CATEC (Advanced Center for Aerospace Technologies), will participate in the Mohamed bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge as a team – The Iberian Robotics. This robotics challenge is organised by Khalifa University (MBZIRC 2020) and will take place in Abu-Dhabi, from 21st to 27th February 2020.

32 teams from the best international research centers in the field of autonomous robotics in outdoor environments were selected. A financial support of about $ 4 million has been given to 21 of the 32 selected teams, including the Iberian Robotics. The best ranked teams will receive prizes amounting to more than $ 1 million.

The Técnico team is composed of 7 elements, coordinated by researchers Alberto Vale and Meysam Basiri, and includes 3 scholarship holders (João Gonçalves, José Rosa and Rui Bettencourt) and 1 technical assistant (Tiago Cardoso). Professor Pedro Lima is the project mentor and the coordinator of ISR’s Intelligent Robots and Systems group.

“This is a high-caliber challenge, from a technical and scientific point of view. The quality of the participating teams and research groups is undeniable”, says professor Pedro Lima. “Being among the selected teams allowed us to hire people and to acquire equipment. The cash prizes to the best ranked teams are very attractive as well”, he adds.

The MBZIRC 2020 event consists of a series of challenges – aimed at overcoming technological limits in robotics – involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).

In Challenge 1 a team of UAVs will autonomously track and interact with a set of objects (for example intruder UAVs) following 3D trajectories inside the arena. Challenge 1 is motivated by UAV safety, where the team UAVs will attempt to capture and neutralize intruder UAVs inside the arena.

In Challenge 2 a team of UAVs and a UGV will collaborate to autonomously locate, pick, transport and assemble different types of brick shaped objects to build pre-defined structures, in an outdoor environment. Challenge 2 is motivated by construction automation and autonomous robot based 3D printing of large structures.

In Challenge 3 a team of UAVs and a UGV will collaborate to autonomously extinguish a series of simulated fires in an urban high rise building firefighting scenario. Challenge 3 is motivated by the use of robots for urban firefighting, and requires the team of robots to collaborate to autonomously carry out a series of urban firefighting related tasks in an outdoor-indoor environment.

The Iberian Robotics team will compete in challenges 2 and 3.

According to professor Pedro Lima “we are very positive because we have very skilled people working in this project and our work is making good progress”. However, the Técnico professor recalls “the high quality of the other teams” and highlights that it is important to bear in mind that “some unexpected setbacks may happen, due to sudden software breakdowns or problems”.

Before leaving to Abu-Dhabi, the team carried out a large number of tests.